Guwahati: While wildlife activists in Northeast India are ‘silent’ on recent transfer of 20 elephants from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat, the Centre for Research on Animal Rights (CRAR) have expressed concern over the issue.
The Centre for Research on Animal Rights (CRAR) expressed concern over the ‘mysterious’ transfer of the elephants in a 49-vehicle caravan across 3,000 km amid scorching heat.
“A caravan transporting elephants at this scale has possibly never been seen in 75 years of Independent India, at least never since elephants were shipped to our frontiers for war in the 19th century,” the CRAR said in a statement.
As many as 20 elephants were transported out of Arunachal Pradesh’s Namsai district on Friday morning.
According to reports, a Supreme Court-appointed High-Powered Committee (HPC) allowed the transfer of elephants to the Radha Krishna Temple Elephant Trust in Jamnagar supported by Reliance Industries Limited.
The committee was formed after a slew of petitions were filed in various courts challenging such transfer of elephants to Jamnagar.
Eastern Arunachal Pradesh and Upper Assam districts have a recorded history of capture of young elephants from the wild; the pachyderms are subjected to brutal training and trade for captive use across India, the animal rights body said.
The CRAR said during the last two years many worrying incidents of transfer of young elephants out of Arunachal Pradesh have come to light.
“This has led to cases in both the High Court of Tripura and the Supreme Court of India and to the appointment of the High Powered Committee chaired by retired Justice Deepak Varma to adjudicate all requests for transfer of wild/captive wild animals for rescue. It is hard to comment on this recent case of transfer of 20 elephants as none of the proceedings, documentation, report and the orders of the committee have been made available to the public,” it added.
Seeking a thorough investigation into the transportation of the elephants, CRAR said, “We know that it is very common for elephant owners to show wild caught elephant calves as captive born in order to legitimise their trade or rescue. Any transfer orders, particularly out of Arunachal, therefore require deeper scrutiny, scientific investigations like maternity DNA testing and more participation of wildlife experts from the Northeast itself.”
“We sincerely hope that this current transfer does not in any way inspire further capture, training and more elephant trade which will severely undermine the objectives of the Wild (Life) Protection Act, 1972,” it added.
The CRAR further urged the High Powered Committee to make its proceedings public to end all speculations and doubts.
During the last one year, more than 50 elephants, mostly from Arunachal Pradesh, have been transported to Gujarat through Assam.